Women’s Resource Center Prepares for Office Relocation

Floor+plans+for+renovations.+Photo+Courtesy+of+Women%E2%80%99s+Resource+Center

Floor plans for renovations. Photo Courtesy of Women’s Resource Center

By Natalie Colby, News Editor

 

As January 2020 comes to an end, the University of Utah’s Women’s Resource Center prepares to move back to their offices on the fourth floor of the A. Ray Olpin Union after the complete renovation of the space. They have been located in the Annex since July 2019 during the changes.

The center provides around $250,000 in scholarships a year, including some help with childcare, and also has counseling available and community outreach programs. 

They have been planning the renovations since October 2018, but they did not start until right before Thanksgiving. 

Last year, they were given the go-ahead by administrators to do the renovations. However, they were told they had to find funding by themselves. After six weeks of searching, they had the base of what they needed through donors who are remaining anonymous. 

As the process progressed, they also received some funding from student affairs and the previous supervisor. 

“It was just timed perfectly with an opportunity which presented itself and it all fell into place just perfectly,” said Debra Daniels, director of the Women’s Resource Center.

Daniels said the renovations were necessary, as the space was too small for all of the staff and students they want to accommodate. 

“ I have been aware of places on campus where students could go and feel very comfortable … I felt like we didn’t have something quite like that for women,” she said.

She said they want to be more visible on campus for women to ask questions and get the resources they need

Kirstin Maanum, the education specialist of the Women’s Resource Center, said they wanted to add a lounge space for students to congregate and collaborate. They will hold weekly support groups in the space, and also hope to see people come together organically to host their own meetings.

“I think it is going to be bustling with students not only studying but maybe doing planning meetings,” she said. 

Daniels said the place will also allow them to collaborate with other offices and be more accessible to all women. 

“I’m really excited about seeing students come in and think ‘this is a space for me’,” she said, “We are looking at women on a total fluid context of identities.”

Additionally, it will give them the space for another full-time licensed therapist and allow people such as Maanum to be housed in the center, where there previously wasn’t any room. 

While they are excited about the renovations, their temporary location in the Annex has presented its own challenges. Maanum said it has made it easier for those who live in on-campus housing, but it is out of the center hub of campus, which made it harder for others to find them. The building is far from accessible. 

“We just had a student come in today for an initial contact meeting and they got a parking ticket because they didn’t know where to park,” she said. 

Despite any challenges, Daniels said she is proud of her team for doing the work necessary to honor the donors and plan for the renovations. 

New furniture will come in at the end of February, and then they tentatively plan to host a soft opening for the new space on Mar. 3.

 

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